Vetx Research Palatability Testing in Dogs and Cats

Vetx Research conducts feeding trials in dogs and cats based on AAFCO Guidelines (American Association of Feed Control Officials) using qualified panels of animals. Panels are qualified so as to eliminate those dogs and cats that have a feeding bias. An example of a feeding bias is for example a dog that feeds only from the right bowl. They do exist. Another example is a so called shy feeder. These animals fail to consume adequate feed inside the time limit.

Palatability is a complex science and even small changes in a formulation can have large effects on palatability. For this reason Vetx is able to offer results to Pet Food Manufacturers when formulations are changed. It is handy for Pet Food Manufacturers to be able to compare palatability of a new formulation against an old established one. It also makes sense to compare your products against those of your competitors

Palatability testing including first choice analysis can be used in marketing pet foods. Statements such as ‘75% of dogs preferred our product’ can be made and backed up by real data.

Vetx is able to conduct these studies on all types of food including dry, canned, semi moist or refridgerated product. We are also able to run meat reference studies where product can be referenced directly or indirectly against meat.

These studies are designed to measure food intake as well as first preference of one food over another. This is called twin bowl palatability testing where a qualified panel of dogs or cats are offered two foods. The intake of each food is measured as well as first preference. Any effect on stool quality can also be scored.

Single bowl testing can also be measured for non comparison  intake studies. This measures the total quantity consumed and can relate the energy intake to the animal’s requirement.

Long term puppy studies can also be undertaken to test the effects of feeding growing puppies from weaning to 6 months or maturity on a single feed. These studies require that puppies are blood sampled every month to check critical blood parameters. Puppies also receive a full veterinary examination monthly and at other times if required. Puppy weights are recorded weekly. At the conclusion of these studies a full report is presented to the client with statistical analysis if required.

As well as palatability testing Vetx Research undertakes digestibility testing which gives a measure of the total quantity of nutrients utilised by the dog or cat by comparing the quantity fed to the quantity excreted in the faeces and urine. These studies are run over 5 days and it is important to select non coprophagic animals for the study. An overall digestibility can be calculated and if specific digestibility is required for protein, carbohydrate and fat Vetx can arrange testing through a laboratory.

Vetx Research also conducts acceptability testing of pharmaceuticals and neutraceuticals for palatable medicines in both dogs and cats. These are run on a consumption versus time scoring system. This type of testing applies to medicines usually in tablet, chew, paste or liquid form. Animals undertaking this form of testing are fed over a number of days to map any change in acceptance over time.

Another advantage of using the independence of Vetx Research is that the data produced is scientifically validated through approved test systems and statistical analysis.